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GENESIS 1: Did God Really Create the Universe in Six Literal Days?

The Majesty of God’s Creation

I ended up being a “Baptist” because the Baptist church is one of the few remaining denominations that will take a firm stand on Biblical inerrancy. Most of the grand denominations of the past have fallen to the way side on this critical issue, and few today will stand firm in declaring the fundamental truth that the scriptures in our Holy Bible are “God Breathed”.

While I am delighted that my denomination takes such a stand, I am saddened that many in the denomination take the stand only at the 30,000 ft. level. Yes, at the top level we proclaim that the Bible is God’s perfect word, but how quickly we practically fold on the issue once we open the Bible.

Genesis 1 clearly teaches the universe and all of creation were made in six days. Science clearly tells us that the universe is billions of years old. As believers, we are faced with a dilemma . . . take the Bible at face value, or adapt our interpretation of the Bible based on the teachings of men.

Many preachers, teachers, and church leaders have come up with a loophole, or an “out” for us. They teach that the word for “day” in Genesis 1 can mean “age” or a period of great time. Unfortunately, this is nonsense. The word used in Genesis for “day” is the Hebrew word “yom” (Stong’s Concordance Word 3117). Yom has one meaning, and that is the word “day”. So the idea that there is hidden truth in the ancient Hebrew that allows us to reconcile these two world views unfortunately has no scholarly basis. Yom means day, simple as that.

It is true, however, that the word “day” in the English language can have different meanings. For example, if I were to tell you, “Back in my Grandfather’s day, everyone walked to school”, clearly I am not talking about a literal 24 hour day. Similarly if I were to say, “The invention of the airplane ushered in a new day of high speed transportation”, clearly I am talking about an “age”, not a 24 hour day. If I were to tell you, “We have home fellowship on Friday evenings. It takes my wife 5 days to get ready for it. On day one she gets up in the morning, she cleans the kitchen, and she goes to bed in the evening. On day two she gets up, she buys the groceries for the home fellowship meal, and then she goes to bed. On third day she gets up in the morning, she cleans the sun room, and then in the evening she goes to bed. On the forth day she gets up in the morning, she prepares the room for the fellowship and then she goes to bed in the evening.  On the fifth day she gets up in the morning, cooks the meal for the fellowship, and then after the fellowship she goes to bed in the evening.” It is pretty clear that in this case we are talking about a literal 24 hour day.

So, back to Genesis 1. We determine what type of “day” we are talking about by context. It is as simple as that. Clearly in Genesis 1, the context and description is the most similar to my description above of my wife getting ready for our home fellowship. The text in fact goes on to more clearly explain what a day and night is, as if God anticipated that there would be confusion on this issue. In Genesis 1:3-5:

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

I must ask myself . . . is there any way God could have been clearer by what he meant by a “day”?

Nothing in the text would suggest long periods of time. It is the fact that man tells us that the universe is old that we adjust our reading of the scriptures to allow for an “old” universe.

Adapting our reading of scripture to accommodate a world view created for the most part by people who do not believe in God, or at a minimum do not hold His word as precious and perfect is a very dangerous thing. We should adapt our view of the world based on the truth of the Bible. We should NOT adapt our reading of the Bible based on the teachings of men. To do so is to hold a very low view of scripture.

So how do we reconcile what the Bible teaches vs. what the world teaches? There is much that can be said about this, and if you are weak in your faith in this area, then we can talk in more detail in future posts. For now though I simply encourage you to hold fast to the simple truth of Genesis 1. On judgment day I stand before The Author of the Bible, not the authors of endlessly changing books on the Cosmos. I choose to believe Genesis for the simple and elegant way it is written. God created the world and all that is in it in six literal 24 hour days.

Kipsongo Slum

Child in the slums of Kipsongo

I have been reflecting recently on time I spent in the slums of Kipsongo. Kipsongo very well could be the saddest place on earth, filled with orphans, widows and many dieing of various diseases. In walking through the slums, I have never experienced such an overwhelming feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. It is East Africa neat the town of Kitale, Kenya.

Kipsongo is filled with the broken dreams of missionaries who have been there trying to make things better, you see faded and broken signs on buildings now fallen down . . . recreation centers, mission churches and the like. Started with great intentions but no follow through. More than one missionary has broken his plow trying to till the hard soil of this slum. The last time I was there, most relief operations appeared to be abandoned. The people did have a nice hand pumped water well that was still working . . . no doubt the work of some kind soul in the past.

The first time I went to Africa, I had my heart set on fixing the poor. I was sure that I could teach them skills, and show them how to be self sufficient, and help them pull themselves out of poverty. Unfortunately all my efforts were futile. I put in a chicken coupe, flock of chickens and taught how to raise chickens. When I returned, the chickens were dead, and the coupe was falling in. This and countless other efforts to bring relief to these people all failed.

I have come to understand a Biblical truth. God never told us to “fix” the poor, he told us to love the poor. In fact, he told us the problem is not fixable when he said “The poor will always be with you”. What I have come to realize is that what is needed more than anything else is the truth of the Gospel. Mission efforts centered on good works and relief are doomed to failure. There is not relief on earth to fix the problem. You can not fix a spiritual problem with mosquito nets, water wells and bags of ground corn. Only the hope that comes from knowing Jesus Christ can fix the problem. This requires that we spen more mission resources on the “First Love” . . . sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.